Our first full morning in Da Nang, the five of us hopped in a cab to explore the peninsula that juts off the beach and turns the world into a thick jungle. It was our first experience with the natural beauty of Vietnam that would mesmerize us with its rich, rich greens for the next few weeks.
Our first stop was the Linh Ung Pagoda, famed for the tall statue it hosts.
We had seen the towering Lady Buddha from our beach chairs across the water, so it was incredible to see just how tall she was (a 30 story building!). It was so windy I could've blown over, so we didn't trek down to see her front, but here she is on the left
and on the drive home later.
The temple itself was the most impressive we saw in the country,
and sidekicked by a dozen or so other smaller temples and many other statues of gods. The whole plaza was quite large.
To enter the main temple, like the ones in Hanoi, it was recommended to take off shoes, but here we also were given a skirt-like wrap to cover our bare legs. Here, like the other temples, the dark scent of incense hung inside the wood-paneled room, home to several shining buddhas.
This old tree next door held up a string of chimes that was singing uproariously in the day's winds.
Down the hill from the temple was a pond full of lotus flowers. For dessert the previous night, we had eaten lotus seed soup, a sweet syrup with large beads of the lotus, so were curious to get a close look at the flowers. See the pods?
Our cab driver mentioned that past the temple was a beautiful resort, which he recommended we visit; it turned out to be the Intercontinental, but it was a bit too early for lunch and we drove on. (We tried to eat dinner there another night, but it was sadly booked full.) Lan Tu had heard of a large Banyan tree, and so we drove for another 15 minutes or so down the peninsula. The road turned a bit dusty and rough and the skies were thick with cool humidity. We could almost feel the clouds pass into the open windows of our car.
We weren't sure the cab's motor was strong enough to get up the hills, but we (and a few motorbikes) made it! You can see how tall the tree if you see me in the right photo.
Steps led up the hill into the shadow of the trees which, we learned, drops down limbs which then grow roots, effectively giving the tree hundreds of trunks.
The sign by the tree dated it at about 800 years old--several times the age of the U.S.!
The peninsula is also famous for monkeys, but we didn't see any, sadly. Next time!
That afternoon, we sat on the wind-blown clear beach and looked across at Lady Buddha standing tall in the mountain.